Programming note: Warriors-Thunder coverage starts tonight at 6:30pm with Warriors Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area, and streaming live right here.
OAKLAND -- The Warriors close out their midseason 24-day Northern California residency Wednesday night with yet another game accompanied by drama.
Two days after thumping LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers completely out of Oracle Arena, the Warriors will face MVP candidate Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder -- AKA Kevin Durant’s former team.
The Warriors (35-6) thought they might have to do it without shooting guard Klay Thompson, who went to Portland to visit a gravely ill family member but he arrived at the arena roughly 90 minutes before tip-off and is expected to play..
The Warriors are playing their ninth game out of 10 at home; the other one was up the road in Sacramento. They’re 8-1 since returning from Cleveland on Dec. 26.
Oklahoma City (25-18) is on the fourth leg of a seven-city road trip that spans 13 days, though the Thunder will return home for three days of workouts before going to Utah next Monday.
Warriors by 13.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Stephen Curry vs. Westbrook: Though the point guards won’t often be in direct matchup -- Thompson, if available, will spend the majority of time defending Westbrook -- each is crucial to his team’s performance. Regardless of who gets the primary assignment on Westbrook, the Warriors will have to rely on team defense and make him a volume shooter. If Curry outplays Westbrook, OKC has no chance.
Warriors: No injuries listed; G Klay Thompson (family issue) was listed as questionable, but is at the arena and is expected to play.
Thunder: C Steven Adams (concussion) is listed as out.
Warriors: 8-2. Thunder: 5-5.
The Warriors won the first meeting this season, 122-96, on Nov. 3 at Oracle and have won seven of the last eight meetings. The teams met last postseason in the Western Conference Finals, which the Warriors won in seven games.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
KD: Durant has made it clear that facing his former team is different than any other opponent. There is evidence behind this. Playing with visible intensity, he torched OKC for a season-high 39 points in the Nov. 3 game in Oakland. Don’t be surprised if he delivers another impressive performance.
THE PAINT: With Adams out, the Thunder’s interior defense is appreciably weaker. OKC could start backup big man Enes Kanter, who is vulnerable, but more likely will go with a smaller lineup, with Jerami Grant at center. In either case, expect the Warriors to attack at every opportunity.
OKC O: The Thunder offense is weakest in two specific areas: turnovers and 3-point shooting. Westbrook’s ball domination contributes to both. He averages 5.4 giveaways a game and the Thunder, as a team, ranks 29th in 3-point shooting percentage (32.6). The Warriors lead the league in steals and in 3-point defense.